Winter-holidays

Best Christmas Markets in Europe

When it comes to Christmas markets, Europe has the rest of the world beat. If you’re in the region this Christmas, drop by these places for the ultimate holiday experience.

RELATED: Bucket List Destination: Germany

Strasbourg, France

The first even Christmas market is said to have originated in Strasbourg. The market sits among picturesque wooden houses, canals and the local Notre Dame church. Ice skate, listen to carol-singers or just stroll through the markets with a mulled wine (in a boot cup, of course).

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Vienna, Austria

The Christmas experience in Vienna is unmatched. Over 20 markets operate in town squares all over the city. The favorite is the markets at the base of the beautifully-decorated Rathuas (pictured) where around 3 million people flock each year to by their little glass ornaments or wooden toys. Because you are in the classical music capital of the world,  see one of the many special concerts held in the Rathaus over each weekend of the holiday season.

Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Dresden, Germany

It is estimated that Germany has around 5,000 Christmas markets – so anywhere you go, you will find something to please you. But the markets in Dresden date back to 1434 and are the oldest in the country – perhaps on the continent. Dresden sits on the picturesque river Elbe, and despite being destroyed during World War II, has been restored to its glorious historic aesthetic.

Dresden

Prague, Czech Republic

Shop Bohemian crystal, hand-made marionettes and decorations in one of Prague’s adorable Christmas markets. The best is probably in the old town square, surrounded by gothic architecture, and of course, the famous clock tower. Prague is magical any time of year, but the Christmas spirit brings new life to this usually dark and mysterious marvel.

Prague

Brussels, Belgium

Brussel’s relatively young market spans a two kilometre course through the city’s historic centre. There will be rides for the kids, 18,000 lights, an ice-skating rink, and over 240 stalls for you to browse. Don’t miss out on the local cuisine – mussels, fries, chocolate and waffles!

Brussels

Image of Brussels via europeanbestdestinations.com 

December 3, 2014

Ski New Zealand

Ski New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most popular places in the southern hemisphere for skiing and snowboarding. In addition to downhill (alpine), there is cross-country, ski touring and ski mountaineering.

Heli-skiing is another popular, though pricey, attraction. In winter, helicopters are used to lift skiers up to the top of long, isolated stretches of virgin snow.

Unlike Europe, America or even Australia, New Zealand?s commercial ski areas are generally not set up as resorts with chalets, lodges or hotels. Accommodation and apr?s-ski nightlife is usually in surrounding towns, and there are daily shuttles to/from the main ski areas.



www.lonelyplanet.com

Club ski areas are open to the public and are much less crowded than commercial ski fields. Although non-members pay a slightly higher rate, they are still usually a cheaper alternative. Many have lodges you can stay at, subject to availability. Winter holidays and weekends will be fully booked, but mid-week you?ll have no trouble.

The variety of resorts and conditions makes it difficult to rate the ski fields in any particular order. Some people like to be near the party scene of Queenstown, others prefer the high slopes and quality runs of Mt Hutt, the less crowded Rainbow Valley or the many club skiing areas. And for class NZ scenery, it?s hard to beat the volcanic slopes of Ruapehu.

At the major ski areas, lifts cost from $30 to $68 a day (roughly half for children and two-thirds for students). Lesson and lift packages are available at most resorts. All the usual equipment can be bought or hired in NZ; rental costs from $30 a day. Snowboard with boots hire starts at $45. These prices are lower if the hire is over a longer period. It makes sense to hire equipment close to where you?ll be skiing, so that you can return your gear if there?s a problem with the fit.

From Lonely Planet?s New Zealand

11th Edition

ISBN 1740591968

Paul Harding et al

Published September 2002

720 pp / 44 pp colour / 120 maps

A$33.00

Buy this title from the SheSaid Bookshop

July 1, 2003